Tomorrow is, possibly, Manny Ramirez Day in Fort Myers. The day after that, the Sox will play the cross town Twins in the first game of the Mayor's Cup, a small trophy going to the winner of the Spring Training series between the Twins and Sox who both train in Fort Myers. Australia will also begin training at the Red Sox facility and will be playing an exhibition game against us. This suits Red Sox minor leaguer and Spring Training invitee Trent Durrington who won't have to go anywhere when he goes from the Red Sox to team Australia.
A few days ago was Photo Day, when the team takes a team picture and many baseball cards are photographed. Players going on to international duty donned their international uniforms. David Wells, who isn't expected to be on the team for much longer, did not participate on photo day. Neither did Manny Ramirez, of course.
Several pitchers started to throw live batting practice including Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jon Lester. Will Lester asked to be called Jonathan if he makes the big club this season?
For once, the Red Sox actually had a decent amount of young pitching talent in Baseball America's top 100 prospect list. Jon Lester was ranked as the 22nd best prospect, Papelbon was 37th, Craig Hansen was 54th and infielder Dustin Pedroia was 77th. Baseball Prospectus ranked Pedroia at 11th. One can easily see how much of an unclear science valuing prospects is. However, it is very nice that we actually have some young pitching talent on its way up. If Papelbon does well, and Hansen and Lester develop in the minors, we could have a nice staff at the end of a season with pitchers ranging from veterans like Curt Schilling, to recent college grad Craig Hansen.
AXELSSON ADDS MORE GOLD TO THE BLACK AND GOLD
The Bruins will be back in the swing of things on Wednesday night when they play down in North Carolina against the Whalers/Hurricanes. Carolina, by the way, has the most points in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins will welcome back Gold medal winner P.J. Axelsson of Sweden. The Bruins didn't sent too many players to the Olympics this year and that might help them in the regular season. Several teams will be struggling for a few days as players return from Torino. The Bruins desperately need maximum points from as many games as possible. Starting off against Carolina will be a test, but the Bruins can do it. They've been edged out by the Canes 4-3 twice this season, but both losses were in OT.
Speaking of the Whalers, did anyone else hear an organ version of the Hartford Whalers theme song played at the hockey rink in Torino, Italy during the bronze medal game between Russia and the Czech Republic? I did, and it was awesome.
PATRIOTS AND NFL IN A WEIRD SITUATION
The Patriots are once again facing an off-season full of questions. They are once again without an offensive and defensive coordinator due to Eric Mangini going to the Jets to be their head coach. More importantly, the NFL may or may not have a collected bargaining agreement in place for the upcoming season. The deadline is tomorrow, but we've seen deadlines for CBAs pushed back numerous times, particularly in baseball. Without a CBA in place, the 2007 would be a season with no salary cap. Teams could spend as much as they wanted on players. This would seriously screw things up, especially if those teams that go way over the cap are forced to go below the cap in 2008. Even worse, there might be a lockout of the 2008 season if no CBA is agreed on.
The Patriots also might have to find a new kicker as they didn't put the Franchise tag on Adam Vinatieri. They haven't done much in terms of negotiating with him because of the uncertainty of the NFL's economics for the upcoming season. If he goes, I think it will be a big blow to this team. Yes, he is just a kicker, but he is the most dependable kicker in the history of the game. How many times have we seen other teams lose because their kicker missed a field goal near the end of the game? Quite a few times. How many has Vinatieri blown? Not too many, if any.
The Patriots also released Duane Starks who spent most of the 2005 season injured and trying to chase down receivers running for touchdowns. The Pats also extended the contract of special teamer Don Davis. The Patriots also might have to replace Willie McGinist this upcoming season. We all forget because of the way he plays, but Willie isn't exactly young for an NFL D-end. He's been around a long time.
There are so many uncertainties with the Patriots and the NFL, and there isn't anything we can do about it except sit, wait, and watch.